‘Durable Brigade’ soldiers support US Army North Command in Detroit

Pfc. Nicholas Godwin, strength reporting clerk, 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade, in-processes a Soldier during a rehearsal for Task Force Central Durable Strike–Detroit, Michigan, 11 April at the Detroit Marriott Renaissance Center. The rehearsal served as a readiness tactic to ensure the team can execute their mission and provide the sustainment support needed in order to protect our force from, and prevent the spread of COVID-19. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Victor Gardner)

DETRIOT, Mich. – The 1st Infantry Division Sustainment Brigade answered the call of the nation when US Army North Command assumed operational control of the ‘Durable’ Brigade. On 9 April, the commander of the ‘Durables’ employed a cross-functional Forward Assessment Sustainment Team (FAST) to Detroit, Michigan in order to conduct sustainment operations in support of the 13th Expeditionary Sustainment Command. The team’s mission is to determine capability gaps and anticipate future requirements based on COVID-19 trends.

FAST 1 is comprised of military occupations such as human resources, distribution management center field services, healthcare specialists, and many others. The team has two areas of assessment and support, implementation of government contracts and the registration of Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers who are on the frontline. The importance of each function is critical to the success of US Army North Command’s mission to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. Maintaining the supply of the equipment and basic needs of the service members insures the safety and security of those frontline workers. FAST 1 plays a vital role in determining capability gaps and requirements for the Detroit area.

In order for the doctors and others to remain safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, personal protective equipment (PPE) needs to be readily available, and in large supply. Sgt. 1st Class Robert Guzman, commodities manager, 1IDSB, helps assess the situation on the ground and implements measures of resupply, through a method of how fast or slow supplies and PPE are being used.

“Everyone is learning how this process is going to work right now,” Guzman said. “By making good assessments we can be sure that we don’t run out of supplies for critical items from 96 hours out. We also assist with class eight supply systems through the Defense Medical Logistics Standard Support Customer Module. Measures have been put in place and aligned with unit information to make sure if and when we use this system, the supplies reach the treatment location.”

Guzman summed up the mission FAST 1 has in Detroit when he said, “Things on the ground change very fast and if we can help expedite the process and get medical staff in and out so they can go on with their operations, we’ve done our job.”

In order to obtain, move, and supply the mission, the government often times contracts the services of civilian companies. The Contracting Officer (KO) conducts research into what entities will fulfill the needs of the mission from the civilian sector, while writing and awarding the contracts to the private companies. These persons cannot conduct the implementation of the contracts on their own. A Contract Officer Representative (COR) has the responsibility of making sure the company is adhering to the guidelines of the agreed upon contract. For FAST 1 that COR duty falls to Capt. Seth Williams, distribution management center field services officer in charge, 1IDSB, who served as a COR for the brigade during their recent deployment to Afghanistan. Williams feels his role on the team is important to the mission because it allows contracted support to augment the capabilities of Soldiers, so they can focus on their areas.

“We oversee the contracts that directly support the medical service providers,” Williams said. “I hope to achieve a smooth transition for all personnel involved, and to facilitate a safe working environment.”
Part of facilitating a safe working environment is to have capable medical professionals on the team. Spc. Cody Nelson, healthcare specialist, 1IDSB, recently re-enlisted for active duty for three years after completing a stint in the National Guard. Nelson said he was happy the command felt he was competent enough to place him on this mission. He will be conducting medical screenings of Soldiers coming in to support the mission. The medical screenings are designed to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19 to the workers in the recovery facility, as well as protecting the military personnel conducting their various missions. Nelson also understands that he may come in contact with personnel that exhibit symptoms of COVID-19.

“I have a healthy caution about working so closely with a (possible) outbreak,” Nelson said. “But I’m confident in my equipment and the training I’ve received. As far as the precautions (I know) gloves, gowns, and masks will keep me perfectly safe.”

When asked how FAST 1 helps US Army Command North prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the force Guzman said, “We add value by being a second and third opinion on how to implement the processing of supplies, medical screening and contract observation. The more eyes you have on a problem set, the more refined a process can become.”